MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) —
A Reality Check that will have you double-checking what's in your wallet. Fake cash is popping up all over town leaving victims hoodwinked by bogus bills. NBC 15's Andrea Ramey shows you how to avoid being duped.
"I didn't realize the money was counterfeit until the guys pulled away," said Carlos Richardson.
Richardson thought he was getting $2,500 in cold hard cash for his car. What he got in reality? Meaningless paper.
"My dad said I wonder why he pulled off fast like that, so he said make sure all the money is there," said Richardson.
The $100's were there, but "for motion picture use only" was printed right next to Benjamin Franklin's face.
"You couldn't see it at all. He had it like this and counted it out to me, and it was all hundreds. So it went by quick, you know," said Richardson.
The name on the bill of sale was fake, too.
"Fake name, fake cash, you've just been taken for a ride," said Ramey. What's that feel like?
"It's the worst feeling," Richardson replied.
"It is a growing problem. We get more and more cases every month," said
Since 2017, the Secret Service says more than $260,000 in counterfeit cash was reported in south Alabama.
"I get more cases on the commercial side, but whenever I have an individual who is victimized, it's a much larger number because they've purchased a vehicle or something along those lines," said Det. Josh Rhodes, with the Mobile County Sheriff's Office.
So how can you spot a fake? It seems obvious, but first look for words and symbols that don't belong.
"We also have some with, looks like an Asian stamp," said Rhodes.
Another tip - look for the security thread or bar in the bill. Make sure it's on the correct side, too. The strips for $20s and $100s are on the left side. And make sure you can read that strip if you inspect it..
"This is what an actual strip looks like in a bill. It says USA10, USA10 all the way down it. That tells me the numerical of this bill. This bill here, you can't read anything in that strip, looks like a bunch of ink blobs," said Rhodes.
Crooks have a variety of ways of getting counterfeit cash. Some, as we've seen, just order funny money online. In other instances, real money is bleached and turned into higher amounts. Often, the bills are printed from a computer.
Ashlund Burley was arrested in Mobile last summer for printing tens of thousands of dollars on her home printer.
"She had money literally falling off the printers," said Rhodes.
In the last three months, Mobile Police have reported at least three instances of criminals caught with counterfeit cash.
"Don't get in too much of a hurry. You're selling your car you're excited, you're ready to go buy that next car, take the time look at every single bill you're receiving," said Rhodes.
Rhodes tracked down Richardson's car. the one purchased with all that motion picture money, and the person investigators say who passed that counterfeit cash, Evan Lett., is now facing 36 felony counts.
"I did get the car back, and I ended up selling it again," said Richardson.
Richardson's advice after his Craigslist car selling experience?
"Check your money," said Richardson.